I’ve hardly updated this blog for the last few months – not because I don’t know what to write about, but because what’s been going on hasn’t been my story to write – and the people that I love don’t need to read about their lives through my eyes on these pages. But those same people need distractions and so I’m back, by parental demand.
In a nutshell, I’ve still been buying shoes (including the shiny happy sparkly boots that arrived in a big parcel of happiness yesterday), I’ve still been going to the gym (well, not quite so much as I should have been) and I’m still enjoying a glass of wine or two.
Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits and I have bought bicycles (electric bikes with power assisted pedalling – so that we can race each other uphill), and well, we’re growing middle-aged disgracefully. I bought a sensible-ish folding one, but he went for a mountain bike with suspension, just because he could. His bike looks as cool as all hell but my one is way quicker from a standing start (as we discovered doing a mini grand prix in our local supermarket car park).
I’ve been to summer barbecues, wedding receptions, and have been camping in the Cotswolds. I’ve laughed and cried like no other time in my life and endeavour to be a better person, to let the people I love and who love me, know that they are always in my thoughts.
Life is way too short, but enjoy it in every way you can. Now, I’m off to ride my byocycle, I’m off to ride my bike…
I’ve been conspicuously absent these last couple of months – this is due to epic amounts of stress on all fronts. My coping mechanisms have included the following: I’ve indulged in oodles of retail therapy, satisfied significant carb cravings and have swigged a few too many bottles of sauvignon blanc – and it’s never a good idea to write a blog under the influence of that last one.
Enough was enough – it was time to retake control. I joined a gym close to the office and vigourously signed up for a few classes. I was still reasonably fit thus was slightly over-confident in my abilities. I started easily enough – the Zumba class was sweaty but fun, I did a few cardio-only sessions on the cross trainer, and then I leapt happily into Urban Iron. Oh dear god. Utter Agony for the following two days was the result – I really enjoyed the class but chose too heavy a weight set. Half way through I knew that although I was doing ok, I was going to hurt in the morning. And hurt I did – ‘no pain, no gain’ was the mantra I kept repeating to myself over and over. I nearly had to wake Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits on the Monday morning convinced that my legs were incapable of bending enough for me to buckle up my shoes. My body had aged 30 years over night, I had to mentally prepare for lowering myself into a chair or heaving myself up again – taking a good 30 seconds each way and a lot of groaning.
But I worked through the pain and booked myself onto the same Saturday morning class for the week after, I halved my weight set and got through the whole class and the following two days without any pain. I’m going to Strength & Tone tonight, I’m on the standyby list for the terrifyingly named RIPPD on Thursday and will be back to Urban Iron again on Saturday. I haven’t over-indulged on the vino or partaken in an online shopping spreen since getting back to the gym. Somehow, throwing those weights around is good for the mind, the body and the bank balance. And that’s good enough for me.
I’ve been absent without leave from the blogosphere, which means that I’ve been busy. And when I say busy, I mean sleep-deprived busy. As has Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits.
Which is why we were stunned, dazed and confused when our schedules combined within a 2.5 mile radius in London on Monday. We were in the same place at the same time. In the 10 years we’ve lived south of the border, this is unheard of.
I quickly booked a hotel for us in Kensington for Sunday night – this meant that we could get up slowly on Sunday and head through to the big smoke for the day. We could shop, we could enjoy a glass of wine or two, and then we could shop. Between us we bought three pairs of shoes, two for me one for him. This is a normal and healthy ratio for a female:male shoe-off. Although, I haven’t seen my new shoes since then. Hmm, I may be the victim of a hostage situation – he may actually be holding me to the ‘one pair in, one pair out rule’. I don’t remember that discussion over late night gin in a tin.
We did all that and more and headed off our separate ways on Monday morning. My conference was less than a 30 minute tube ride away, Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits was a 15 minute drive away so I left for work later than I do every day I’m in the office – a brilliant start to a Monday I find. He finished filming 30 minutes earlier than I did and came to collect me so that we could drive home together. My own windswept and interesting chauffeur – all I had to do was keep a steady supply of coffee and chewing gum flowing on the journey home.
I’m still in a state of shock, and no matter what this week has since thrown at me, I remain well and truly inside my happy bubble.
Thus, our once in a decade day will be remembered as happily as eating warm apple strudel in the restaurant at the top of Grossglockner.
It’s been a challenging week so far and today has gone beyond, way beyond taking the Michael.
And thus I wandered home, looked longingly at the box of wine, decided “later my pretty, later” and put the OBB kit on instead. It’s been a good night – I’ve lunged my way through the pyramid of doom, spinned my way through the women’s curling bronze medal match (go Team GB), and successfully planked for the designated 150 seconds (thank you Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits for the Metallica playlist). I now feel better about this week – it’s amazing how much life goes back into perspective when you’re wheezing for dear life whilst the little endomorphins rush around your body.
But today was a tough one – my default fantasy when office life is getting me down is to run away and join the circus. I have it all figured out – I’m the bombshell who gets fired out of a cannon wearing spandex outfits emblazoned with The Titanium Tempest. Hey, a girl’s gotta dream.
Anyway, my day started off with puddle avoidance, deteriorated into broken wifi routers, faulty laptops, disobedient developers, a depressing amount of yet-to-be-written policies and anarchy. I also have two members of staff on compassionate leave, another about to go on paternity leave and an alarming office plague that’s turning lovely people into feverish phlegm-spouters. I bought cookies and wasabi-flavoured crisps – it was the only sensible thing to do.
In my ongoing Operation Bikini Bod (aka OBB) motivated state, I’m upping the workouts again. This is doubly insane because I am somewhat of a medical anomaly – in 4 weeks of abstinence (yes, including alcohol – there’s only been one serious slip), calorie controlling, exercise and green tea quaffing I have shed an amazing 1 lb of body weight. You heard me – 1 lb.
Lesser people would weep in frustration, I however can pinch less than I could do on Christmas Day so I know what I’m doing is working. I weigh myself no more than once a month for this reason alone – our digital scales lie – well maybe they don’t lie, but they certainly don’t tell the whole truth. And that truth is I’m getting leaner, and building muscle. With 13 lbs still to shed, at my current weight loss rate of 1 lb per month, I’ve got a year to go. Go me! My goal is April so I require some additional motivation. I came home after a long day out on the road when I was too tired to workout and tried on my bikini (the middle ‘B’ in OBB) and asked Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits to take photos of me in unflattering light from the front, the side and the back. I can almost live with the front and side views, but as I already knew, the rear view needs more work. Damn my pear shaped genetics. And more work means squats, lots and lots of buttock-lifting squats. It’s not known as the king of exercises for nothing.
Today’s workout needs a whole lot of help from Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits, however, he’s off filming in the middle of nowhere with just an outside broadcast crew for company, so I have alternate instructions. Do the exercises I can do alone, but do more, and do a pyramid. This had me concerned and so it should – I can’t do squats on my own – but unfortunately, I can do lunges. And so I find myself gearing up for a 5 set marathon:
Set 1 – low weight
Set 2 – raise weight
Set 3 – heaviest weight
Set 4 – same weight as set 2
Set 5 – same weight as set 1
When you write it down it doesn’t look a lot, but when you add in the other exercises and the 45 min spin session afterwards, I may need some medical attention. Or at the very least, some gas and air.
I’m doing this for me – exercise allows me to clear my mind, it keeps me healthier and my clothes fit me better. It’s so easy not to do it – I didn’t do much of anything for 15 years, which is why it’s so hard to take 15 years of bad-living off. But it’s never too late to right the wrongs of your youth. I want to make the most of my life, and I need this body to do it, I just want to look good whilst I’m doing it.
Well, it is, isn’t it? It’s a month of reflecting on the past and being excited about what lies ahead. It’s the time when our clothes feel a bit tighter and our skin looks a heck of a lot grayer due to epic over-indulgences.
It’s also time to embrace winter and all of its layering opportunities. This week alone I’ve rocked an artic explorer look , an ice-skating princess ensemble, and tried out being a russian spy for the day. All good fun.
January, aka the month of good intentions – of being good to our bodies and our minds. I started well, but failed on wine-down Wednesday. It turned yesterday a very long day indeed. This first full week back in the office has been long – we were all knackered by mid week (hence the afore-mentioned wine-down) as everyone is used to working in small, concentrated bursts. I’ve had to lure people into meetings with the promise of biscuits. But it’s now Friday and the energy levels are rising appropriately, we can smell the weekend coming, and it smells of duvet.
I’m in the midst of hatching a grand master plan for 2014, and that’s what I love most about January – I make the first in a series of plans. Compulsive list-making session imminent.
‘Tis the season for detoxing, the five-two diet and abstinence. Well, it certainly is here in nerd land.
We all know that I’m on OBB (Operation Bikini Bod) so none of the above applies to me – I’ve been on a healthy(ish) binge for the best part of a year – although I have ramped up the pace recently as my hamstrings and glutes can testify. I am in constant and chronic pain, but as with L’Oreal products, I’m worth it.
It’s the 8th of January and what we’ve learned so far this year is this little pearl of wisdom, don’t leave your green tea teabag in your cup. Unlike herbal tea, where the fruity or therapeutic infusions improve with a good stewing, green tea has the opposite effect. In one disciplined colleague’s own words, “Oh my god, I’ve got the green tea heaves. Niiice.”
And so the moral of the story of today is, caffeine is good, red wine is better, but if you absolutely have to drink the detoxing and anti-oxidating caffeine-free green tea goodness, only leave the tea bag in for a couple of minutes or your body will reject the goodness. It must be true, we’ve done scientific experiments and everything.
Over the years I’ve had my fair share of hairtastrophes, namely:
when a hairdresser cut into my ear rather my hair (ears bleed more than you think they would)
when a hairdresser gives you chemical burns and your fringe falls out
when you ask for an inch off and they give you a pixie crop
when a perm took so long I had to leave the salon with my hair dripping wet and still toxic to make the ferry home from university
Thus, when I find a hairdresser who makes me look great and feel fabulous, who’s had me in tears of laughter and who I trust enough to say, “do what you want” – that’s someone I’ll share a glass of wine with. Lately this has been mid appointment, although she waits until all the chemicals have been washed out and the cutting is complete before quaffing along with me.
One of life’s guilty pleasures – you bet. But I leave with a smile and a swagger (minus the bobble hat) looking my best.
I’ve tried quite hard to get myself bikini fit in my forties, but not quite hard enough.
There’s been a little too much of this:
And nowhere near enough of this:
And, if truth be told, I could have been a little more disciplined on the working out front. However, all is not lost as I’m 24 lbs lighter than this time last year and I have a new target – become bikini fit by Spring, or Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits’ birthday, to be more precise. That’s a 14 week boot camp ahead of me, removing that last 14 lbs of excess. I’m pleased at how far I’ve come, but I know that I could have done better – and that’s downright annoying. I could have pushed myself a lot harder, but I didn’t – buggerations.
The truth is it’s always easier to do something other than a little bit of exercise. I’m absolutely fine if I’m in a routine, but if I lose momentum then it’s hard to get going again. And with work commitments, breaks away, trips to see family etc, it’s really ridiculously easy to lose the drive. Over these last few months I’ve not been working out enough and I’ve been been a little bit greedier than I should be – those pesky glasses of wine or two really do add up after all. Not to mention bacon sandwich Fridays. And the small inconsequential fact that I ate more than 2.5 times my calorie allocation on Christmas Eve alone – if you drinketh the wine, then you succumb to the cheese and crackers – true fact.
Therefore over the next few weeks I’ll propel myself back into my regime and stick to it come hell or high water (although I’d better not make jokes about high water at the moment). I need to stay motivated and force myself to accept the truth that ‘nearly’ isn’t good enough this time. MrShoeThatAlwaysFits inadvertently helped me out yesterday by absconding off to work with the last of the chocolate buttons, without as much as a ‘by your leave’.
On the plus side, I’ll get more than enough exercise on my walk home tonight leaping out of the way of fast car puddle-spray, navigating large deep puddles via a complex stepping stone routine, and running for my life between hailstorm showers. Who knew that winter could be so invigorating?
Hooray – my favourite day of the year! The frenzy is nearly over, it’s almost time to kick back and relax and it’s almost too late to buy anything else.
I love Christmas – I always have. My parents take it very seriously – I once arrived home late one night post school Christmas dance to find my Mum sewing cotton wool onto invisible thread. Our dog was having the time of his life wrapping himself up in it all. When I asked her what exactly she was doing, she simply replied, “I’m making snow”. Beautiful. Twenty years later that snow still makes a comeback in her living room window. They moved from the islands to the highlands when I was at university and that first Christmas she had people knocking on her door to find out how she had made the snow. Trade secret, I could tell you, but then she’d have to kill me.
I embrace a non-traditional Christmas look – I’m allergic to real trees so I have a 7ft navy blue prelit tree decorated with turquoise, blue and silver. I love it – MrShoeThatAlwaysFits is a bit of a Christmas Bah Humbug so he suffers a lot living with me , but them’s the breaks – tee hee hee. And whilst we’re on a non-traditional Christmas theme – I don’t make Christmas dinner (and not just because I can’t cook). My all time favourite meal is curry, luckily, it’s the same for Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits, so we’ll be settling down on Christmas day (if he’s not working) to champagne, curry and red wine, followed up with a cheese board. We’ve done that for a few years now and it’s our kind of Christmas day.
We really miss our families, but we’ve done our Christmas visit already and feel totally loved up. And with the inventions of skype and facetime you’re never really that far away.
Now, I’m away to liven up the office with some Christmas music and a warm mince pie or two. Merry Christmas one and all, good tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.